Travel industry leaders in the US are calling on the White House to set a 1 May deadline for developing a plan to reopen international travel in Q3 this year.
A coalition of 26 American companies and organisations representing airlines, unions and travel advisors sent a letter to White House Covid-19 response team coordinator Jeffrey Zients on Monday 22 March, asking the Biden administration to partner with the industry to craft a "a risk-based, data-driven roadmap to rescind inbound, international travel restrictions".
"The roadmap to safely reopen international travel should be finalised before 1 May 1 2021, so that a plan is in place to reopen by Q3 2021 if vaccine distribution and epidemiological trends continue in a positive direction," the letter said.
"The need for a data-driven, risk-based roadmap to reopen international travel is urgent. In 2020, overseas travel to the US declined by 81%, while travel from Mexico was down by 62% and Canada by 77%, causing a loss of US$146 billion to the US economy.
"If nothing is done to lift international travel bans and bring back demand, the US Travel Association estimates that a total of a 1.1 million American jobs will not be restored and US$262 billion in export spending will be lost by the end of 2021. However, if travel from the top inbound markets to the US is able to safely resume by 4 July 2021, and reach an average of 40% of 2019 levels for the remainder of this year, it would accelerate economic recovery by adding US$30 billion in incremental spending and bringing back 225,000 American jobs."
The plan, the coalition said, should continue the mandate for inbound travellers to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test, but with an exemption for vaccinated travellers.
The group also called on the administration to (1) provide global leadership to develop uniform health credentials for travellers, (2) begin bilateral negotiations to ease travel restrictions through public health corridors, (3) develop clear benchmarks and a transparent framework for determining when all inbound international travel restrictions can be lifted and (4) prioritise the resumption of international travel on the agenda of the upcoming G-7 meeting of the world's leading industrial nations.
"To be clear, at this time, we do not support removal or easing of core public health protections, such as the universal mask mandate, inbound international testing requirement, physical distancing or other measures that have made travel safer and reduced transmission of the virus," the letter said. "However, the data and science demonstrate that the right public health measures are now in place to effectively mitigate risk and allow for the safe removal of entry restrictions."
Source: Travel Weekly